Interviewing is crucial part of the job for managers and executives, and a skill that is learned on the job.
Analyzing resumes and interviewing candidates is not something that is learned at college but is more intuitive; you just do it and let your own judgment guide you.
One of the things I teach my clients who are actively looking for a job is that interviewing with a potential boss is always easier because none of them are expert interviewers. Instead, they are merely looking for someone to fill a need. However, this advice has always frustrated me. Although it’s true, I suspect with a little more preparation, managers could do a superb job at interviewing without being HR experts.
Keeping this in mind, below is a general interviewing guide for executives and managers. It has tips and information that will help you improve your interviewing skills.
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Job interviews are aimed at verifying and understanding three main things about candidates:
- What they know
- Their work history and interests
- How they fit with the company
Usually when candidates come to you they have passed most of the “filters” and they are ok in these three aspects, but you’ll be surprised to discover how many times a well done last interview helps in the selection process. So first off, be clear that you are not just looking for someone who can do the job, but someone who loves the job and can work for your company.
Work History and Skills
Understanding someone’s work progression is important. The way they have made their career choices tell you a lot about the way they make decisions and who they are. On the other hand, skills are things that you have done over and over again so many times you are just good at doing.
Knowledge come from things that have been learned and studied. Make sure at this stage to ask specific questions about projects or problems solved and how those were achieved. Place emphasis on results.
A well-known recruiter once told me “the difference between a professional and an amateur is that the professional will always go to the facts of his experience and the amateur will always speak in general terms without measuring what he did.” You want to hire a professional, right?
Also, remember that behind each example the person gives you there is a set of skills you might be interested in. Look at the stories he/she tells from that perspective, and always, always ask for their role in the project or problem solved.
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Where’s the Passion?
Way too often people ask me why is it important to know where someone’s passion lays? The answer is extremely simple: that’s where the money is. If the person you are interviewing is not enthusiastic about the job at hand, think twice about that prospect.
To find where someone’s passion lays, ask questions like:
- What are your ambitions for the future?
- What trends do you see coming in the industry?
- What motivates you the most?
- What are your long term goals?
- In your last position, what did you like the most? What did you like the least?
Again, the idea is to understand the interests of the candidate and how they align with your team, your company and type of job.
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I see many people making the wrong decisions because they looked for skills and knowledge but not for fit. Not everyone is made for every type of job or to work for any organization. Fit questions although they are often neglected, can be key during the hiring process. The idea is to make sure you see a correlation between the values of the person and the values of the company.
Some of the most used questions include:
- Tell me about yourself, Why do you want to work for us?
- Why are you leaving your present job?
- Describe your personality.
- What do you think of your former boss?
- What would your former subordinates say about you?
- If we offer you this job, what is the first thing you would change?
- Are you considering other offers at this time?
- Why do you think you haven’t found a job after all this time?
Please bear in mind all the questions above can be difficult for candidates who haven’t prepared well for interviews, so go easy on them. I suggest using only a couple of them depending on what you need to know. Always ask for results, insist on people clarifying their role everytime they give you an example (avoiding using the word "we") and good luck on your next interview!